NBA Free Agency 2011: Best and Worst Case Scenarios for All NBA Teams

John FrielAnalyst IMay 6, 2011

NBA Free Agency 2011: Best and Worst Case Scenarios for All NBA Teams

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    The 2011 summer offseason surely won't be as dynamic as last year's, but it could feature a few teams turning their franchise around with a few key moves.

    Teams like the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls already got their franchises in order after pulling off signings and trades, and even though they could still use some more help, this offseason is the summer of the underdog.

    With a plethora of teams turning their franchises around last offseason, this could be a summer where the cellar dwellers of the league could sign or trade for quality role players across the league.

    Not until next year will we see big name free agents in Chris Paul and Dwight Howard go up on the market, so consider this the year for teams to begin wooing those two with their quality rosters.

    With most of the free agency class being regarded as role players, teams need to be wise on who to pick up and for how much.

    Even though there are not too many big names to pick up, there are still plenty of role players that could be picked up.

    These role players are essential to any team, as they could either help bolster a bench, help surround a franchise player or even attract some big name players down the road.

    The 2011 offseason is the prequel to the next cinematic masterpiece that the 2012 offseason is sure to be.

    Every team should prepare, and these are the best and worst moves that they could possibly do in an attempt to help themselves either for the season ahead or the next few seasons ahead.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Best case scenario: The Atlanta Hawks re-sign Jamal Crawford.

    And if the Atlanta Hawks do re-sign Jamal Crawford, hopefully they won't give him $120 million either.

    Crawford didn't have the same regular season stats as last season when he averaged 18 points in only 31 minutes per game, but he is beginning to prove his worth in the postseason.

    In five of the eight playoff games he has played in thus far, he has scored at least 20 points, with the Hawks being 4-1 in those games.

    Jamal is also hitting 44 percent from deep and was a key reason behind the Hawks first round upset of the Orlando Magic.

    His three-point shooting and his ability to get hot makes him one of the most volatile and dangerous players in the league and one of the best scorers to come off the bench.

     

    Worst case scenario: The Hawks allow Crawford to walk.

    Jamal will be in heavy demand after an impressive postseason and could be offered a lucrative amount of money by a team who is desperate for a starting shooting guard or a scorer off the bench.

    Atlanta will need to prepare to offer Crawford a hefty amount, but not enough that they might regret it in a few years like they probably will with Joe Johnson and his six year deal.

    With no pure scorer off the bench, Crawford is one of the Hawks most valuable pieces and will need to be re-signed if Atlanta wants to make any deep postseason pushes.

Boston Celtics

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    Best case scenario: They sign a center for the future.

    Trading away Kendrick Perkins for Jeff Green was a deal made for the future even though it's been obviously detrimental to the teams postseason success thus far.

    With the Boston Celtics having to rely on the likes of Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal and Nenad Krstic as their centers, the C's have been struggling, and those centers aren't built for the long run.

    With players like Kwame Brown, Ryan Hollins and Tyson Chandler on the market, the Celtics need to make a push to get a center that they could rely on for the next few years to play alongside Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis.

    Boston is set to lose two key centers, and they're going to need a center if they want any chance of thriving without Garnett, Pierce and Allen in the future.

    Worst case scenario: They allow Ray Allen, Glen Davis, or Jeff Green to walk.

    The last thing the Celtics are going to want to do is allow their three best free agents to walk away.

    Their aging sharp shooter, Ray Allen, apparently still has some years left in him after a career 2010-'11 campaign, and their two post presences in Jeff Green and Glen Davis would be too valuable to give away either, unless they can get the right player if they offer them as trade bait.

    This will be a crucial offseason for the Celtics future after seeing their age and health catch up on them in the first two games of their semifinals series against the Heat.

    They'll need to invest in all the youth they can, which means offering deals to Green and Davis to keep them around.

Charlotte Bobcats

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    Best case scenario: They add offensive specialists.

    The Charlotte Bobcats have already proven that they are a viable defensive team. However, now is the time for the 'Cats to start adding some offensive fire power alongside Stephen Jackson.

    Charlotte has begun to get some offensive contributions from Gerald Henderson, but they have yet to find any consistency in the flow of the offense aside from Jackson.

    With players like Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler and Michael Redd up for grabs, the Bobcats have plenty of options to look to if they want to find the offensive specialists that can make them a playoff team again.

     

    Worst case scenario: They overpay for the wrong player or re-sign someone for too much.  

    After a disappointing 2010-'11 campaign where the 'Cats missed the postseason, there will be plenty of moves for Charlotte to make to improve.

    The last thing the organization wants to do is either re-sign the wrong player for too much or to overpay the wrong player in free agency.

    With no big name players, they're going to have to distribute their wealth to a number of role players that could help them, namely some offensive specialists.

    The Bobcats need some offensive help, and they need to make sure that they get the right players on their roster.

Chicago Bulls

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    Best case scenario: They add another shooter.

    Watching Derrick Rose play sometimes looks like a work of art. Watching him average seven three-pointers per game isn't.

    Rose has become three-point happy in the first two postseason series, and it's painfully obvious that he could use some help from beyond the arc aside from Kyle Korver and Luol Deng.

    For this years offseason, there are plenty of three-point shooters to go around with J.R. Smith as the cream of the crop.

    The Knicks Shawne Williams and the 76ers Jason Kapono are also options who would come much cheaper than Smith.

     

    Worst case scenario: They remain the same team.  

    After having their best season since the Michael Jordan-era, this offseason is now the time for the Bulls to build off of their recent success.

    They did well last off season, and they only have a few more moves to make before they become the ideal Chicago Bulls team.

    There are a few cheap three-point options that the Bulls could go for, and it would be wise of the organization to give Rose and the Bulls some shooting specialists from beyond the arc aside from Korver.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Best case scenario: The Cavaliers bring in a team leader.

    With no LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers were a team without an identity.

    They set the record for most consecutive losses in NBA history and finished the season at 19-63, their worst record since the pre-LeBron era.

    Cleveland will pick up a quality player in the draft since they'll most likely end up with a top three pick, but they'll also need a leader to help pick the team up after a dismal season.

    There aren't too many free agents available, and their trade bait won't be able to bring in anyone of too high of a caliber, but they will be able to sign role players that could bring in a team leader in the future.

     

    Worst case scenario: They blow the budget on a mediocre free agent. 

    The worst thing for the Cavaliers to do would be to put all their eggs in one basket by offering a lucrative deal to a less than stellar player.

    There are a few players in this years free agency class that could deceive the Cavs into believing that they could be their new franchise player, and the Cavaliers organization will need to recognize that by knowing that they'll have to re-build over time.

    Chances are Cleveland won't find the next LeBron James, but they could become a respectable team if they can sign a few quality players, rather than just one player who could either be a make or break deal.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Best case scenario: Dallas re-signs J.J. Barea, Caron Butler and Tyson Chandler.

    Something had to give. Is this the year the Dallas Mavericks postseason troubles finally cease and desist?

    After two wins on the Staples Center floor, the postseason life is looking lavish to the Mavericks and this team that they got now could be the best they've had in the past decade.

    No matter how they finish this season, they need to make it an issue to re-sign the three key free agents in J.J. Barea, Caron Butler and Tyson Chandler.

    Each of those players holds a key role on the team, with Barea set to become the teams point guard of the future, Butler offering the Mavs a few new dimensions to the two and three spot and Chandler being the perfect center to finish off passes from his teammates.

     

    Worst case scenario: Allowing any of those three players to walk.

    It's true that the Mavericks are expendable at each of those positions with Rodrigue Beaubois possibly being a point guard, Shawn Marion holding his own in place of Butler and Brendan Haywood being a viable replacement to Chandler, but all of that adds to what the Mavericks bring to the table to every game.

    They're one of the deepest teams in the league and they need players like Beaubois, Marion and Haywood to come off the bench to continue to put pressure on an opposing teams second unit.

    There aren't many other benches in the league that can compete with the Mavericks, and they'll need to keep those three free agents to keep the starting lineup and the bench in tact.

Denver Nuggets

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    Best case scenario: Denver signs or trades for a team leader.

    By losing Carmelo Anthony, the Denver Nuggets lost their team leader.

    It was a quality situation in the regular season to have a plethora of role players that could score and play defense, but they couldn't help the Nuggets survive past five games against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    This offseason, the Nuggets need to trade for some sort of team leader.

    They won't be able to sign anyone unless they want to sign another role player to their team, so they'll either need to use their myriad of role players as trade bait or wait until the 2012 offseason to find the leader that they have been looking for since Anthony was traded away.

     

    Worst case scenario: They allow Nene Hilario to walk.  

    Another important part of this offseason will be for the Nuggets to sign their center Nene Hilario.

    Nene stepped up in a big way once Anthony was traded by averaging 15 points and eight rebounds over the course of the 2010-'11 season.

    Hilario struggled in the final four games of Denver's short postseason appearance and it could help Denver's cause if they can get him for cheaper than what they originally expected.

    However, the demand for a quality center in this free agent class is high and Hilario is the cream of the crop.

    Denver will need to re-sign him for the right price, while also saving enough money in the long run for a team leader either this offseason or next offseason when there are more options.

Detroit Pistons

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    Best case scenario: They sign or trade for an All-Star caliber player.

    It's sure to be a busy offseason for the Detroit Pistons organization, and some moves on the sideline might be made before anything else.

    For this summer though, the Pistons need to make a few key decisions on whether they want to keep most of their core together.

    Franchise players like Tayshaun Prince and Rodney Stuckey are both free agents along with role players in Jonas Jerebko and Chris Wilcox.

    The Pistons need to either make the decision if it's time to either keep this core around or attempt to center a franchise around a new player.

    Detroit is going to need star power, and it'll either have to trade away Stuckey and Prince or wait until the 2012 offseason.

     

    Worst case scenario: They're left with the same team by the end of the offseason.  

    After a disappointing 30-52 finish in a tumultuous season that nearly featured a mutiny, it's going to be that time for the Pistons to begin re-building.

    They can't be left with the same team unless they want another disappointing season, which means that they can use players like Stuckey and Jerebko as trade bait for a star player, while also possibly allowing Tayshaun Prince or Chris Wilcox to walk as well.


Golden State Warriors

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    Best case scenario: They sign a defensive specialist in the back court.

    There is more than enough offensive fire power in the back court with Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, but now it might be that time for the Golden State Warriors to begin investing in defense.

    With the Memphis Grizzlies Shane Battier available, the Warriors could possibly get the veteran defensive specialist for cheap.

    The Los Angeles Lakers Matt Barnes is also another option who could help out the defensive situation for the Warriors.

    The team has more than enough offense to go around, and even though it translated to one of their best records in years at 36-46, they could still afford to bring in a defensive presence or two.

     

    Worst case scenario: They allow Al Thornton to walk.

    Their recently acquired combo forward in Al Thornton is too valuable of a player to allow to walk away.

    He has averaged as much as 17 points and five rebounds per game and could come for cheap after not being able to score above 11 points per game for the past four seasons.

    Either way, Thornton is extremely athletic and would be a valuable piece to both sides of the court for Golden State.

Houston Rockets

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    Best case scenario: They sign or trade for a small forward/power forward for the future.

    Even though they only have three free agents this offseason, the Houston Rockets are going to be left with a lot of decisions to make.

    As for signing anyone, they need to begin investing in some youth for the future.

    Their current franchise player in Luis Scola might be putting up career numbers again, but he is over 30 years old and is nearing the downside of his career.

    The Rockets should try and pursue an athletic forward that could possibly assist them in the future such as Al Thornton or David West.  

     

    Worst case scenario: They allow Yao Ming to walk.

    It's going to be quite the decision for the Houston Rockets to make, but they're going to have to decide if Yao Ming is going to be capable of being the same caliber player that he once was.

    The past few seasons of Yao's career have been ravaged with injuries and have even threatened to end his career.

    It's still undetermined whether he will even be ready to play next season or just how long he will be able to play before these nagging injuries pop up again.

    The Rockets need to sign Yao because of just how valuable he can be to a team with absolutely no size.

    They need to make sure to not overpay, as well and avoid the risk of paying a player that might not even be in the league a few years from now.

Indiana Pacers

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    Best case scenario: They sign a back-up to Roy Hibbert.

    After a productive season where they were able to make their return to the postseason, it is now the time for the Indiana Pacers to begin improving from their 37-45 record.

    For now, they mostly need a back-up to their future All-Star center Roy Hibbert.

    Luckily for the Pacers organization, there are a number of centers they can choose from that could come cheap, while also providing the team with some stability off the bench.

    Among those that can be looked at include Kwame Brown, Samuel Dalembert or Alexis Ajinca.

     

    Worst case scenario: They strike out and don't sign anyone.

    The Pacers bench could use some help, and this is the offseason for the team to build with.

    There are plenty of role players of all sizes in this years free agency class, and they can all assist the Pacers in moving on even further in the postseason for the next few seasons.

    They have the capability and the funds to sign a back-up to Hibbert and to any other player, so there should be no excuses for Indiana to not be able to sign anyone.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Best case scenario: They sign quality bench players.

    Don't let the 32-50 record fool you, the Los Angeles Clippers are a few reliable bench players away from being recognized as a truly dangerous team.

    With a starting lineup filled with talent, the Clippers need to look to expand their talent off the bench.

    In an offseason where there is plenty of filler to add to any teams bench, Los Angeles should have no trouble in adding some quality players to their lacking bench.

    Among those that could be signed would be Josh Howard, Jason Richardson or Michael Redd.

     

    Worst case scenario: They overpay for a role player.

    The Clippers won't find anyone worth giving too lucrative a deal, so they need to be careful with how they spend their money and who they give it to.

    The franchise is the closest it's been in years to being a dangerous team, and all they need now are a few more pieces to get the ball rolling.

    They have a quality starting lineup in tact and now need to build around them with a quality bench.

    With more than enough to go around, the Clippers need to distribute their wealth evenly over a few quality players to come off the bench.

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Best case scenario: They invest in youth.

    It might be unbelievable, but the Kobe Bryant era could be coming to an end soon.

    After over 15 years of production and playing a ridiculous amount of minutes, the Los Angeles Lakers might need to begin investing in youthful players to look to for the future.

    They can make their push for Dwight Howard next offseason, or earlier if they're willing to part with Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol.

    Now might be the time to convince Howard that L.A. is the place he'd want to be a year from now.

    Among those that could be signed would be Al Thornton, Caron Butler and Shawne Williams.

     

    Worst case scenario: They allow Matt Barnes or Shannon Brown to walk.

    For now, the Los Angeles Lakers need to keep their starting lineup and bench in tact unless they're ready to make a significant move for Howard.

    Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes aren't going to come as too expensive, so the Lakers would be wise to either sign them to a deal not worth too much or sign them and trade them for some more reliable pieces.

    Both players haven't always been that consistent, but they provide the Lakers with some help from the bench for defensive and three-point purposes.

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Best case scenario: They sign quality bench players.

    The Memphis Grizzlies already handled their biggest situation by signing Zach Randolph before he became a free agent and now they must look forward to signing a few quality role players to surround him and the rest of this upstart team.

    With an already successful postseason in hand, Memphis could possibly attract some help from role players that want to come join the team in an attempt to put the Grizzlies over the top.

    They've already upset the San Antonio Spurs and took home court advantage from Oklahoma City, and have one of the brightest futures of any other postseason team.

    Back-up centers like Francisco Elson or swingmen like Anthony Parker would help this team as far as their depth off the bench goes.

     

    Worst case scenario: They stay with the same team.  

    The Memphis Grizzlies have a team capable of doing brilliant things and making damage in the postseason, and now they have to improve upon that.

    They can't idly stand by, not make any moves and watch as other teams bolster their benches with the players that the Grizzlies could possibly pick up to improve their own bench.

    The Grizz have made great strides, and now they need to build off of this drastic improvement.

Miami Heat

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    Best case scenario: They sign a center.

    It's been a nice sight to see the Heat thrive without a true center for the first two postseason series, but at some time or another, they're going to need one to really put themselves over the top.

    Face it: Erick Dampier, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Jamaal Magloire won't cut it, especially when they're set to retire soon.

    Even with young Dexter Pittman waiting in the wings, the Heat are still going to need a true center that can hold his own on defense while also being able to catch and finish around the rim.

    There are a few centers that the Heat can look to in Kwame Brown and Samuel Dalembert, and Miami will need to make these moves to help fill out the starting center position, and possibly adding some depth to what is soon to be a huge gaping hole in the Heat's lineup.

     

    Worst case scenario: They strike out and remain with the same bench.  

    After seeing the bench struggle all year long with consistency, the Heat can't afford to not find either size or a capable three-point threat.

    Losing Mike Miller and Udonis Haslem for most of the year proved costly to the Heat, as they couldn't find one player off the bench that could provide consistent offense.

    James Jones, Mario Chalmers and Eddie House would seldom provide some help, but they were far too inconsistent during the season and even now during the postseason.

    Miami will need to find some depth and shooting specialists to come off the bench if they want to become a more volatile team than they already are.

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Best case scenario: They use Michael Redd as trade bait and get a quality player.

    Sorry to say it, but the Michael Redd era appears done, and so does "Fear the Deer" after a dismal 2010-'11 season where the Milwaukee Bucks missed the postseason.

    The Bucks have been waiting years for their sharp shooter to get back in good health, and will finally get him back in the 2011-'12 season.

    However, playing Redd might not even be worth it after three years worth of injuries keeping him off the court and out of his element.

    Redd won't be the one to put the Bucks over the top, so it might be best for the team to find teams that would want to take the risk of bringing him to their squad.

    Unless they can't get any quality players for Redd, then it might be best for Milwaukee to keep him and look for answers in the free agency class instead.

     

    Worst case scenario: They allow Chris Douglas-Roberts and/or Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to walk.

    The Bucks don't have too many free agents, but they have two restricted free agents who they can't allow to leave unless they can trade them for the right players.

    Chris Douglas-Roberts and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are coming off of quality years, where CDR improved his shooting touch and LRMAM continued to improve his defense and mid-range game.

    Both players are young and are valuable to a team that has had some bizarre history with persistent health problems and injuries.

    Since they probably won't be in heavy demand, the Bucks could re-sign both players with some money left over to sign a few quality role players.


Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Best case scenario: They begin to surround Kevin Love with talent.

    After averaging 20 points and 15 rebounds in the 2010-'11 season, not only is it time to wonder just how much the Minnesota Timberwolves should put aside to re-sign Kevin Love next season, but also which players they could bring in to keep Love in Minnesota.

    Even with a player of Love's caliber breaking records in Minnesota, the Wolves are still a horrible team and their league-worst 17-65 reflects that.

    They won't be able to sign a big name to play alongside Love, but they will be able to sign plenty of quality role players to play alongside him.

    There are a number of shooting specialists and guards that could fill the glaring vacancies, and Minnesota will need to sign a few players if they want to keep Love happy and in Minnesota.

    Among those that could be signed would be Rasual Butler, Delonte West or Jason Richardson.

     

    Worst case scenario: They don't sign any quality role players or blow it all on one player.

    When it comes to teams in dire straits, they get the tendency to become desperate in the free agent mark.

    With a number of role players that could drastically improve the Wolves record by possibly 20 wins, the Wolves will need to spend their money wisely.

    The Minnesota organization hasn't always been well known for making the right moves, but this could be the offseason that could change the consensus' mind about how the Wolves spend their money.

New Jersey Nets

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    Best case scenario: They begin to surround Deron Williams with talent.

    Somehow, the New Jersey Nets were able to trade for one of the most valuable players in the league in Deron Williams over the 2010-'11 season.

    Williams struggled with his shot in the 12 games that he played, but it's obvious that the talent is there and he is ready to lead the Nets back to the postseason after winning only 12 games the year before.

    Dwight Howard won't be an available free agent until next season, so until then, the Nets will have to look towards this years free agent class for help.

    They're in desperate need of a small forward, and could look towards Andrei Kirilenko or Josh Howard for some help at the spot that is currently occupied by *gulp* Sasha Vujacic.

     

    Worst case scenario: They allow Kris Humphries to walk.  

    The Nets best success story wasn't even signing Deron Williams, it was the overall improvement they saw in their power forward Kris Humphries.

    Mr. Kardashian averaged career highs of 10 points and 10 rebounds with the Nets last season and proved that he is a viable option at the starting power forward spot for the Nets.

    Humphries will be in heavy demand after his most productive season, and it's essential to the Nets that they keep him for the right price.

    Chances are that Kris will stay since he's now playing alongside Deron Williams, but it still would hurt the Nets to lose out on Humphries to another team.

New Orleans Hornets

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    Best case scenario: They re-sign David West and surround Chris Paul with talent.

    If any organization has learned anything from the LeBron James situation from last offseason, they know that it is extremely essential to surround their star with talent.

    So far, New Orleans hasn't done that.

    They struck out last season, which means that the time to build around Chris Paul is now.

    The main focus for now would be to re-sign their mid-range anchor in David West and offer up his replacement in Carl Landry as trade bait to bring in a few quality role players that could play alongside West and CP3.

    After an impressive postseason, Paul has shown that he has plenty left in the tank after a few injury plagued seasons.

    The Hornets need to find some shooters that can actually shoot and not another Peja Stojakovic or Marco Belinelli.

     

    Worst case scenario: They allow David West to walk.  

    As good as Landry was in this years postseason replacing the injured West, it would be best for the Hornets to allow him to walk and re-sign West.

    David missed the last few weeks of the season and the postseason, but still averaged 19 points and eight rebounds in another consistent, solid effort at the power forward position.

    The trio of Paul, West and Emeka Okafor is one of the better trios in the league, and the Hornets organization needs to find the right shooters to begin surrounding these players to convince CP3 and West to stick around.

New York Knicks

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    Best case scenario: They sign quality bench players.

    Bringing that new trio of Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Chauncey Billups was a fun concept until the postseason began and reality set in.

    It turns out that the New York Knicks did actually need a bench, especially when Billups and Stoudemire began succumbing to various injury problems.

    The Knicks were right in bringing this core together, but now is the time to convert this three-man effort into an actual team.

    They should re-sign Shawne Williams, but they should also go out and find a quality center and a few more offensive specialists to come off the bench to help out the team.

    A center like Samuel Dalembert and a few role players such as J.R. Smith or Rasual Butler would help strengthen the bench.

     

    Worst case scenario: They strike out and are left with the same team.

    The worst thing for the New York Knicks to come away with this offseason would be absolutely nothing.

    It's highly unlikely that the Knicks will remain with this same team, especially with players probably clamoring for a chance to play alongside the latest big three to be formed, but the Knicks organization has proven to us before that they're not always the most reliable bunch.

    After a dismal four-and-out postseason, the Knicks will need to find the bench players that will help mold this team from a pretender into a contender.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Best case scenario: They sign quality bench players.

    It won't be too busy of an off season for the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they already got a team that is poised to make a Finals push and only have one free agent, Daequan Cook, up for grabs, but it still wouldn't hurt for the team to pursue a few players that could help out.

    The Thunder could use another shooter to help stretch out the defense alongside James Harden in the second unit, and they could find that with the plethora of shooters that are available in this years free agent class.

    They'll need to be conservative, as to save money to re-sign Russell Westbrook next year, but they could also afford to sign a player for the right price to come off the bench and aid the Thunder in another title push.

     

    Worst case scenario: They're left with the same team.  

    It's highly unlikely that the Thunder will make any drastic moves to their team, since the starting lineup that they are running with now appears to be the one that they'll run for awhile, but they still wouldn't just want to stay with the same team and hope for the best next year.

    While the experience that Durant and Westbrook get will be valuable in the long run, they could afford to bring in another shooter, presence in the middle or slasher to come off the bench.

    Remaining stagnant means that the Thunder could be passed up by other teams that made the right moves over the offseason and give competition to Oklahoma City deep in the playoffs next year.

Orlando Magic

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    Best case scenario: They surround Dwight Howard with talent.

    As I stated in the New Orleans slide, it would be wise of the Orlando Magic organization to begin surrounding their best player with some viable talent.

    After an extremely disappointing postseason that ended in six games, despite Dwight Howard averaging absurd numbers, the Magic are a team in dire straits, with already talks of Howard testing free agency in 2012.

    For that not to happen, Orlando's going to have to pull off a trade to bring in a big name or to test free agency this year and sign some role players that could complement Howard.

    Free agents like Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler or Andrei Kirilenko could provide Howard with some hope towards the future that the Magic organization are trying to help him achieve his goal of winning a championship.

    Orlando will need to do whatever they can if they want Howard to stick around.

     

    Worst case scenario: They stay with the same team and lose Jason Richardson.  

    That first round loss to the Atlanta Hawks proved that the Orlando Magic are in desperate need of receiving some help from sources other than players who shoot six three-pointers per game.

    Orlando needs to find some multi-dimensional players, while also possibly changing the offensive system to that of one that doesn't require the team shooting nearly 25 three-pointers on a nightly basis.

    The Magic need to surround their All-Star with talent and they need to find the right players to have him stick around.

    Losing Jason Richardson would hurt as well unless the Magic can somehow do a sign-and-trade with a team willing to give up some pieces that could benefit Orlando in the size department or the department of not having another player that shoots nothing but three-pointers.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Best case scenario: They sign a quality center and re-sign Thaddeus Young.

    The Philadelphia 76ers had a successful 2010-'11 campaign after starting off the season 3-13 and then finishing off with the seventh seed.

    They gave the Miami Heat a few scares and now look to building off of their recent success.

    The Sixers have plenty of young talent with Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young leading the way, so they not only have to re-sign Young, but also to sign a player that can help complement them.

    The center position was a glaring hole in the Sixers lineup during the regular and postseason, with Spencer Hawes being the starter and Tony Battie coming off the bench.

    Players like Kwame Brown, Kyrylo Fesenko or Aaron Gray could all provide some resistance in the middle.

     

    Worst case scenario: They allow Thaddeus Young to walk.

    There are a few players that the Sixers could afford to trade away or let walk, and Thaddeus Young is not one of them.

    Young only averaged 13 points and five rebounds coming off the bench this season, but has shown plenty of signs of being a possible All-Star in the near future.

    He's a dynamic and electrifying athlete that has begun to develop a quality mid-range game as well.

    Philadelphia needs to continue to keep investing in their young talent if they want to be a perennial postseason team that also wants to be a contender.

Phoenix Suns

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    Best case scenario: They re-sign Aaron Brooks.

    As sad as it is, the Steve Nash era might be coming to an end.

    Of course, that might not happen for another two of three years, so for now the Phoenix Suns will have to invest in their young, soon to be starting point guard in Aaron Brooks.

    The Suns picked up Brooks from the Houston Rockets prior to the trade deadline and he is currently under the tutelage of one of the best to learn from in Nash.

    Brooks showed in Houston that is well and capable of being a starter and should thrive greatly in the Suns run-and-gun offensive system.

     

    Worst case scenario: They don't sign quality bench players and allow Aaron Brooks to walk.

    After missing out on the postseason, it's essential that the Suns pick up some bench players that can play alongside Nash and help him reach the postseason one last time.

    There are a plethora of shooters that would probably jump at the chance to join the Suns and run in the same offense with Nash, so it would be best for the Suns to listen to the players that are willing to join Phoenix.

    The last thing Phoenix would want to do would be to remain stagnant or overpay the wrong players that wouldn't be able to complement the system.

    It's also essential that the Suns re-sign Brooks, so that they have a point guard of the future to rely on.

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Best case scenario: They sign Greg Oden for the right price.

    I might be speaking too late on the situation, because it sounds like the Portland Trail Blazers are already offering their oft-injured center Greg Oden a lucrative deal that's going to bring more risk than reward.

    The reported deal would be worth $40 million over the next four years to a player that has only played 82 games since being drafted as the number one pick in the 2007 draft.

    Oden did not play a second last season, and is expected to return for the 2011-'12 campaign.

    There are plenty of suitors who are willing to take Oden, but it would be best for the Trail Blazers to either sign him to the right deal or sign and trade him for the right players.

     

    Worst case scenario: They drastically overpay for Oden.

    Or give $10 million a year to a player that hasn't played more than 61 games in a season.

    The Blazers have money to spend with only one other free agent for this years offseason, but blowing $40 million on a player who might not even be ready to play for all of those four years would be one of the biggest mistakes they could make.

    It's understandable that a center of Oden's caliber and potential is highly valuable and a rare commodity, but it's not worth the risk of spending money that could be used for the future development of another player.

Sacramento Kings

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    Best case scenario: They sign quality bench players.

    The Sacramento Kings won't find an All-Star to complement Marcus Thornton and Tyreke Evans, but they could find the players to help this team get better and possibly remain in Sac-town.

    In a few years, the Kings could have a few All-Stars on their team with the likes of Evans, Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins developing, so for now, it's time for the Kings organization to begin surrounding those three with talent.

    There are plenty of bench players for the Kings to sign after mostly using D-League caliber players last season.

    They'll need money for a stadium, but they'll also need to spend some money if they want a quality team as well.

    A few dynamic players, defenders and shooters could really help this team out in the long run.

     

    Worst case scenario: They strike out and allow Marcus Thornton to walk as well.  

    Striking out would be one of the worst things to do, but losing Marcus Thornton would be equally as horrific.

    In 27 games with Sacramento, Thornton averaged 21 points and five rebounds per game.

    Marcus has only been in the league for two seasons and is already exhibiting signs of being a pure scorer that could hit a shot from just about anywhere on the court.

    The Kings might have traded for a steal last season, and they now need to invest in him before he becomes an All-Star that's going to be worth too much.

San Antonio Spurs

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    Best case scenario: They sign youth for the future.

    Could it actually be true? Is the San Antonio Spurs dynasty coming to an end?

    After losing to the eighth seeded Memphis Grizzlies, you might be able to say that it is.

    With their core of Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan aging faster than we anticipated, it would be wise of the Spurs to begin investing in youth.

    Having players like George Hill, Gary Neal and DeJuan Blair is a good start, but it's going to take more than them to turn the Spurs into a dynasty again.

    Possibly signing J.J. Barea, Caron Butler or Carl Landry would be the types of moves that the Spurs would need to make if they want to remain in contention once those three begin to retire or wear down.

     

    Worst case scenario: They allow Tim Duncan to walk.  

    For now though, they need to hold on to what they got, and that includes their aging veteran Tim Duncan.

    Duncan averaged career lows of 13 points and nine rebounds per game this season, but it's still significant to the San Antonio Spurs that they sign their team leader and rock in Timmy.

    He has been the team leader since arriving over a decade ago, and has been the reason behind this Spurs dynasty as well.

    Losing him would hurt team morale and would also leave a gaping hole underneath the rim.

    The team needs emotional support, and one last run after a disappointing postseason run this year, so it's essential that the Spurs sign Duncan for the right price.

Toronto Raptors

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    Best case scenario: They sign for quality bench players.

    The Toronto Raptors might have lost Chris Bosh last season, but they still have a brighter outlook on the future than most believe with players like DeMar DeRozan leading the way.

    In this years offseason, the Raptors need to recognize DeRozan is the future, and now need to begin surrounding him with talent starting with some capable help from the bench.

    There are plenty of shooters to chose from, and they also could use a center to come off the bench that will add some versatility instead of playing as a shooting guard.

    A center such as Francisco Elson or Kyrylo Fesenko would be significant additions to the bench until the Raptors find a quality player from the draft or in the 2012 off season.

     

    Worst case scenario: They strike out and don't sign anyone or overpay the wrong player.

    As I stated in the Cavaliers slide, the Raptors might be desperate for the right player, but it doesn't mean they should now throw their money to the player that might be able to lead them back to relevancy.

    There are a number of role players that could help the team, and there are a few free agents that the Raptors have that they could offer up in sign-and-trades.

    A player like Leandro Barbosa could still be offered up as trade bait and could bring in a few quality role players if the Raptors can play their cards right.


Utah Jazz

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    Best case scenario: They sign quality bench players.

    The Utah Jazz have a number of players on their roster who are set to be free agents, with all of them being expendable.

    They could afford to allow a few of those players to walk and save some money instead for a few quality role players that could help the team off the bench.

    Utah already has one of the better starting lineups in the league with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap manning the front court, but they could afford some help off the bench as well after losing out on their starting point guard and long time coach.

    A player of Leandro Barbosa's caliber would bring a few new dimensions to a Jazz team that could use a slasher.

     

    Worst case scenario: They re-sign and overpay Andrei Kirlenko. 

    They did it before and they need to not do it again.

    The Jazz obviously overpaid for Andrei Kirilenko a few years ago after one of the best years of his career, and while it would help the team to re-sign him, it is also essential that they don't overpay for him once again.

    Andrei has consistently given the Jazz 11 points, five rebounds and three assists over the past four years, and those are not $100 million numbers.

    Kirilenko is 30 years old, and the Jazz could offer him a deal between $30-$40 million over the next five years before he begins to wear down. Anything more than that, and the Jazz would be getting robbed again.

Washington Wizards

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    Best case scenario: They sign quality bench players.

    Even after a season where they finished 23-59, the Washington Wizards still have a bright future.

    With John Wall, Nick Young and JaVale McGee showing plenty of promise over the course of the season, it is now that time for the Wizards to begin surrounding those three players with the talent they need to move on to the next level.

    Washington's starting lineup certainly had enough offensive fire power, but they lacked defense and any consistency off the bench.

    Having Rashard Lewis back next season will help, but the Wizards could still use some options from the free agency market.

    Players like Rasual Butler or Leandro Barbosa would help the team improve and would offer some veteran leadership to a team chock full of youth.

     

    Worst case scenario: They remain with the same team.  

    Washington is very close to being over the top, and might be only a few years away from being a playoff team, so the organization now needs to begin bringing talent to surround the youthful energizers in the starting lineup.

    By remaining stagnant, the Wizards aren't helping out their cause, and they need to sign a few bench players and defensive specialists to improve this young team.

    Considering they're in a division where there are three playoff teams, stocking up on talent would be wise for the Wizards organization to begin doing now.